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At Biogen, our credo of caring deeply is reflected in the ways we engage our stakeholders and use their input to help inform our strategies. While we conduct our materiality assessments according to the globally accepted, GRI standards, we also challenge ourselves to go further than standards require.
We believe that a more rigorous approach to materiality enables us to more effectively anticipate and address important issues as we evolve our viewpoints and develop our overall CSR strategy.
In 2019, we engaged a broader range of audiences, listened to a greater number of stakeholders, and asked new questions. Our analysis helped us identify and prioritize the environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues at the intersection of stakeholder and company concern.
Enhanced and broader stakeholder input
In 2019, we requested input from a wide range of internal and external stakeholders including categories that have not been previously included in Biogen assessments:
Patient advocacy organizations
This approach enabled us to look at issues from multiple diverse perspectives, and to consider key themes in the context of the trends shaping our industry, communities, and the world. We also made a point of seeking feedback from leaders in sustainability and corporate responsibility, who track environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues, provide additional insight into emerging issues and expectations.
A comprehensive approach to questions
We invited input on an expanded range of issues, from our core business to the broader health system. We asked precise questions, and considered
Priorities and performance: We asked stakeholders what they thought should be our top priority issues, as well as encouraged candid feedback on how we are doing in each area.
Stakeholder expectations: We probed for insights to help us understand, in an expanded range of issues, where they see us exceeding expectations and where they see us currently underperforming.
Level of confidence: We not only asked for opinions, but also gauged how confident various respondents were about their thinking. This new approach enabled us to correlate stakeholder confidence with opinions of Biogen. For example, if respondents who have more negative views are less confident in their opinion, it suggests an opportunity for us to equip them with additional information that may better inform their views. Conversely, if they are very confident, it is more likely to indicate an issue that would benefit from additional Biogen review.
Our approach surfaced additional data and gained practical insights by examining:
Internal vs external perspectives: where are there similarities or major discrepancies between stakeholder groups? For example, we considered whether employees see Biogen differently, and whether their expectations for us are higher.
Themes by stakeholder group: we looked for significant similarities and differences in how each category of stakeholder sees our company and priority issues. For example, we considered whether investors or suppliers expect different things from Biogen than NGOs or researchers do.
Levels of stakeholder engagement: we considered the perspectives and expectations of stakeholders who have more robust relationships with us versus those who have more casual or occasional interaction.
Based on the combined and cross-referenced responses from internal and external stakeholders, out of 28 potential material issues, 10 rose to the top. These areas (defined below) were ranked among the top 10 most material issues for Biogen by at least two of our three key stakeholder groups:
All external stakeholders
Corporate responsibility and sustainability leaders
As a result of this comprehensive analysis, Biogen is prioritizing the following critical issues:
Product Quality & Safety
R&D, Pipeline and Innovation
Access & Pricing
Climate Change and Health
Patient Use and Outcomes
Transparency & Disclosure
Health System Strengthening and Resiliency
Information Security & Patient Privacy
Workplace / Employee Health & Safety
Sustainable Economic Performance
We also continue to recognize the importance of the remaining issues to our business and the need to address them as part of our corporate responsibility. These top ten material issues will receive additional attention as part of both our CR reporting and our corporate responsibility strategies and programs.
Definitions of Material Topics
Product Quality & Safety: Pursuing high standards in product safety and product quality, including corresponding management systems and auditing, that always meet or exceed regulatory requirements.
R&D, Pipeline and Innovation: Developing innovative products that treat systemic, challenging, and complex medical issues and address the unmet medical needs of patients around the globe.
Access & Pricing: Expanding the availability of affordable medicines for patients, including the world’s poor, by improving the obtainability of medicines and developing appropriate pricing models. This also encompasses working with patient advocacy organizations.
Climate Change and Health: Reducing anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions along the entire value chain, avoiding the most severe consequences to human health and planetary well-being.
Patient Use and Outcomes: Ensuring that patients are properly and effectively informed regarding medicine usage and the continuous improvement in health outcomes as occurring as a result of usage. Outcomes may be measured clinically (physical examination, laboratory testing, imaging), self-reported, or observed.
Transparency & Disclosure: Timely and accurate disclosure of material matters concerning the corporation, including its financial situation, spending, relationships and results.
Health System Strengthening and Resiliency: Helping strengthen health systems and reducing cost burdens.
Information Security & Patient Privacy: Policies and practices that safeguard the privacy of patient information and protect data from unintended intruders.
Workplace / Employee Health & Safety: The efforts undertaken by Biogen to assess and mitigate potential risks that could impact the health, safety or welfare of workers and the activities or programs to provide employees with a safe and healthful workplace.
Sustainable Economic Performance: Promote the long-term economic health and performance of the company, with a focus on revenue, profitability, costs, appeal to investors, stock performance and long-term financial sustainability.
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